My son is twelve and there is a pimple in the middle of his chin. Yesterday morning he says to me, “Why do we have to have pimples, Dad? “ Then he adds, “Why do we have to have pubic hair, too, and all that stuff? I mean, what’s the point?”
“You’re asking the wrong person’” I answer. “I haven’t even worked out why men have nipples yet.” He is twelve; he grins and he moves on.
Last night we had a boy’s night while his 10-year-old sister went to a school disco. Off to a games arcade where we worked in tandem to eliminate various virtual baddies and me feeling somehow effeminate in the way I gasp the purple gun and loose off panicky shots at everything that moves; followed by a coffee (his chilled, mine espresso) and then a curry puff as we walk around the markets.
“Do you want chilli on that?” asks the Indian man behind the counter.
“Do you want chilli?” I ask my son. He nods.
“It’s very hot, Sir,” says the Indian.
“I know. He likes chilli. We both do.”
We walk around the markets eating our curry puffs; we compare it to the food hall in the next street. My son says, “Well, Dad, it’s more expensive but at least you get chilli.”
We walk past the bar because he likes to watch drunken people. I watch him as he watches two buskers and realise that he is growing up and, even though I know all children must die, I suddenly know that I am going to miss him.
Later, we are driving home and sitting at the lights. Beck is blaring through the speakers and rain spits half-heartedly at the windscreen. He turns to me and says quickly, “Love you, Dad.”
Then we talk about our favourite Beck songs. But in the silences I do wonder why we have to get pimples, pubic hair and stuff.